Distinguished Speakers Series

Educator, Public Speaker Bertice Berry Addresses
Graduates and Guests at 2013 Undergraduate Commencement Ceremony

Bertice Berry

Bertice Berry, Ph.D., an educator, writer, and entertainer, served as the keynote speaker for NSU's 2013 Undergraduate Commencement Exercises.

Having grown up poor in Wilmington, Delaware (the sixth of seven children), Bertice Berry was told by a high school teacher that she was "not college material."

But, Berry not only graduated magna cum laude from Jacksonville University, where she was awarded the President's Cup for leadership, she subsequently earned a Ph.D. in Sociology from Kent State University at the age of 26.

At Kent State University, Berry taught sociology and statistics and became one of the most popular teachers at the university. Larger lecture halls had to be found to accommodate the number of students enrolling in her classes.

By using humor in her lectures to address difficult subjects, such as racism and sexism, Berry was making a profound impact.

She left the university to become an award-winning entertainer, lecturer, and comedienne. From 1991 through 1994, Berry won the national Comedian of the Year Award, and she was named both Campus Lecturer of the Year and Campus Entertainer of the Year. Berry had established herself as a speaker with a comic edge and as a comic with a serious message. She made more than 200 annual public appearances.

Berry's published works include a best-selling memoir, I'm On My Way, But Your Foot Is On My Head, and her best-selling work of fiction, Redemption Song (Double Day, 2000), which has been praised for its ability to entertain, inspire, and educate. She has donated all of the royalties from the sales of her books to organizations that help families in transition, raise funds for scholarships, and provide resource information to low-income families.

In 2011, the president of Savannah Technical College President and commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia dedicated a new Student Enrichment Facility and presented Berry with the Bertice Berry Change & Transformation Classrooms.

Berry was the host and co-executive producer of a nationally syndicated talk show, "The Bertice Berry Show," and hosted "USA Live," a four-hour live interview and entertainment program on the USA Cable Network. She's been featured on television and radio programs, including "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," ABC’s "20/20," and NPR’s “Tell Me More.”

Each year, the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences organizes its academic programming around an annual theme. Berry was the last of the distinguished speakers for the year to address the annual theme of "Life and Death."

For more information on the Distinguished Speakers Series, contact the Office of the Dean at (954) 262-8236.